Saturday January 18 2014
Benitez: 'Napoli can go far'

Rafa Benitez insists it’s “still too early to make predictions” on the Scudetto and told Napoli to improve against Bologna.

The Partenopei travel to the Stadio Dall’Ara on Sunday at 14.00 GMT, click here for a match preview.

“We were determined in Verona and won that game. Now we must continue taking that approach in Bologna,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

“When a tactician is replaced, it’s never good news, but now Bologna will be more dangerous because they are eager to prove themselves under Davide Ballardini. Every player gives 100 per cent against Napoli anyway.”

Pepe Reina, Juan Camilo Zuniga and Giandomenico Mesto are still unavailable, while Marek Hamsik is not 100 per cent fit.

“Reina is training, but we need a little more patience, as we don’t want him to run risks. He’s close to a comeback, but Rafael is doing very well in goal. As for Hamsik, I’ll have to talk to him and see whether to let him play or not.”

When asked whether Napoli’s primary target for the campaign was the title or second place, Benitez dodged the question.

“Our objective is to improve. The first half of the season has been very positive and you can see the team growing. If we look at last season’s squad, it is inferior to the current crop and that pleases me.

“We are working one day at a time, one game at a time, so it is too early to make predictions. The important thing is for the squad to believe in itself. If we keep playing this way, then we’ll go far.”

Juventus put together 11 consecutive victories and are eight points clear at the top of the Serie A table, but Antonio Conte continually points out they’ve achieved nothing yet.

“In Italy many people like to calm enthusiasm. He knows the level of his squad and has faith in his players. Conte has to say that to give the papers something to write about,” smiled Benitez.

The Partenopei are swelling their ranks this weekend, as Jorginho arrived from Verona for his medical and should be followed by Michel Bastos on loan from Al Ain.

“It’s not easy in January and if we find the right players, like Jorginho, then we’ll take them. There aren’t many around like him and we are seeking top level men. January is no time to run risks.

“Napoli still need to improve in defence, though we’re doing better than before already. Gonzalo Higuain is the first who must help out at the back, followed by all the others. Our team scores many goals and the message remains positive, so I don’t think we’re too attacking. There has to be a balance.”

Napoli squad for Bologna: Rafael, Colombo, Contini; Albiol, Britos, Cannavaro, Fernandez, Reveillere; Armero, Dzemaili, Hamsik, Inler, Maggio, Radosevic; Callejon, Mertens, Higuain, Insigne, Pandev, Duvan Zapata

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